Moving forward to build a disability-inclusive society in Asia-Pacific

Photo Credit: Arup Ghosh

At its inaugural session this week, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Working Group on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022, adopted a five-year road map for the implementation of the Incheon Strategy to ‘Make the Right Real’ for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.

The Incheon Strategy provides the Asia-Pacific region, and the world, with the first set of regionally agreed disability-inclusive development goals. The Strategy comprises 10 goals ranging from poverty reduction and employment enhancement for persons with disabilities, to promoting their political participation, accessibility to public transport, physical environment, knowledge and ICT services.

Despite significant progress made in the Asia-Pacific region, persons with disabilities tend to be unseen, unheard and uncounted. They are often excluded from access to education, employment, social protection services and legal support systems, and are subject to disproportionately high rates of poverty. Persons with disabilities continue to face barriers in their participation as equal members of society, with violation of their human rights an every day occurrence.

“Governments of the Asia-Pacific region adopted the Incheon Strategy to build a better future for persons with disabilities. Our vision is to establish an inclusive society, with government and civil society working together to ensure that the post-2015 development goals enhance the rights of persons with disabilities,” said the Chair of the First Session of the Working Group, Mr. Younghyun Park, Assistant Minister of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea.

“The road map adopted by the Working Group, will signpost actions that Asia-Pacific countries must take to fulfil the 10 goals of the Incheon Strategy,” explained ESCAP’s Director of the Social Development Division Ms. Nanda Krairiksh. “Through implementing the roadmap, the Asia-Pacific region will make significant advancements to improve the lives of the 650 million persons with disabilities.”

The Working Group is an advisory body composed of representatives of 15 governments and 15 civil society organizations for, and of, persons with disabilities, to help realize of the rights of the region’s 650 million persons with disabilities.

The Working Group Session, held in Incheon Republic of Korea, from 25 to 26 February, was organized by ESCAP in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea.